Tsunami toll rises to 373; another may hit

An aerial view shows an area affected by a tsunami that hit Sumber Jaya village in Sumur, Pandeglang, Banten province on December 25, 2018, three days after the tsunami - caused by activity at a volcano known as the "child" of Krakatoa - hit the west coast of Indonesia's Java island.

BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati said on Tuesday the agency is anxious about the rough weather making the volcano's crater more fragile. Most of the victims were Indonesian citizens, including many enjoying a pre-Christmas beach getaway not far from the capital Jakarta, but foreigners were also visiting the area.

Hundreds of military personnel and volunteers searched along debris-strewn beaches.

The disaster has raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of Indonesia's tsunami early-warning system, established after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, killing 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia, but since undermined by significant budget cuts.

A quake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island in September killed over 2,100 people, with thousands more believed swallowed up by the earth.

The Indonesian Medical Association of the worst-affected Banten region said that it sent doctors, medical supplies and equipment, and that numerous injured were in need of orthopaedic and neurological surgery. Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, the Associated Press reported, as weeping relatives identified the dead.

Indonesia sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In a video published on social media networks, a rescue group manages to find a five-year-old boy alive after being trapped for more than 12 hours.

President Joko Widodo has expressed his sorrow for the victims and urged people to be patient.

The tsunami "appears to have been caused by an underwater collapse" of part of the volcano, said David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at Britain's Open University. Nugroho, the spokesman for the disaster agency, said two other districts or regencies on the southern end of Sumatra - Tanggamus and Pesawaran - were also affected by the tsunami. The operation is being hindered by blocked roads and rainfall.

Ben Westcott, Dakin Andone and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN - As the threat of more deadly tsunamis casts a pall of fear over Indonesia, the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Monday that more than 5,600 people are displaced.

One team used sniffer dogs to search for survivors at the beach club where a tsunami washed away an outdoor stage where the Indonesian rock band Seventeen were performing at a party for about 200 guests.

That's on top of 373 killed, 1,459 injured and 128 missing.

"Since Anak Krakatau has been actively erupting for the past several months additional tsunamis can not be excluded", said Hermann Fritz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Its deadly impact is a reminder of its historic past.

The eruption of Krakatoa in the 19th century killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures. Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927, and has been growing ever since.

  • Joey Payne